Stardate 2233.04: An immensely powerful vessel of unknown origin appears in the path of the Federation starship U.S.S. Kelvin. The vessel’s commander summons the captain of the Kelvin to negotiate a cease-fire in person, and he acceeds to this demand, having little choice and even less backup. He leaves Commander George Kirk in charge of the Kelvin. The captain is questioned about a Vulcan ambassador named Spock whom he has never met, and is killed in cold blood by his hosts. George Kirk orders the Kelvin to beat a hasty retreat, but the early-23rd-century Starfleet ship is simply no match for its attacker. Kirk orders an evacuation and prepares to leave with his wife, who is in labor. When it becomes apparent that the Kelvin’s autopilot is incapable of defending the evacuation shuttles, Kirk remains on the bridge and sets the Kelvin on a collision course with its unknown assailant. Seconds before he dies, Kirk hears the sound of his son being born and tells his wife to name the child Jim.
Although he possesses exceptional intelligence and instincts, James Tiberius Kirk has a troubled childhood and a police record before he even reaches his 20s. After a bar dust-up with a group of Starfleet cadets that doesn’t quite go his way, Kirk comes to the attention of Captain Christopher Pike, who wrote his Starfleet dissertation on the U.S.S. Kelvin mission and is more than familiar with Kirk’s background. Pike challenges Kirk to challenge himself – to enlist in Starfleet. Kirk declines the invitation, but then Pike makes it a dare that Kirk can’t back down from: prove that he’s at least the leader of men that George Kirk was. Kirk joins Starfleet, promising that he’ll complete the four-year academy program in three.
Stardate 2258.42: Rising Starfleet cadet James T. Kirk is brought before a Starfleet Academy board of inquiry on accusations that he aced the dreaded unwinnable Kobayashi Maru simulation by reprogramming it to allow him to win. The Academy graduate responsible for the simulation’s programming, Commander Spock, is less than impressed with Kirk. But before judgement can be passed, a planet-wide distress signal from Vulcan mobilizes Starfleet. Though he’s intended to stay on Earth pending the outcome of his hearing, Kirk is smuggled aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise by his Academy friend, Dr. Leonard McCoy, under the pretenses of a medical emergency. When he hears details of what’s happening at Vulcan, Kirk breaks his cover and alerts Captain Pike to the danger: whatever is attacking Vulcan is the same unknown ship that destroyed the Kelvin. Over Spock’s protests, Pike enters the fray with caution – and the Enterprise is the only Starfleet ship to survive the initial engagement. As with the Kelvin, Pike is summoned to the ship to meet Captain Nero, who questions him about Earth’s defenses – but on the way to Nero’s ship, Pike drops Kirk, Sulu and another crewman with hand-to-hand combat experience off to sabotage the drilling platform Nero has aimed at Vulcan. Kirk and Sulu are the only crew members who survive the trip to the drilling platform and make quick work of the Romulans manning it, but they’re unable to prevent it from firing. By firing red matter into the planet’s core, the platform creates a small black hole, and Vulcan is destroyed. Spock is able to rescue several members of the Vulcan Science Council, including his father Sarek, but his human mother is lost.
In the wake of this disaster, Kirk insists that the Enterprise should intercept Nero’s ship rather than wasting time rendezvousing with the rest of Starfleet, but Spock will brook no disagreement with his commands and eventually has Kirk put off the ship in a life pod which lands on remote Federation outpost Delta Vega. After a close encounter – almost too close to survive – with the local fauna, Kirk finds himself in the company of an elderly Vulcan who says that he is Spock – from a future that Nero’s actions have changed permanently. The elder Spock convinces Kirk that his best chance for victory against Nero is to join forces with the younger Spock, however unlikely such a prospect seems given their current relationship. They discover a Federation base where a Starfleet engineer named Montgomery Scott is languishing in obscurity, but thanks to Spock, Scott is about to make a momentous breakthrough that will rather handily put Kirk back aboard the Enterprise.
Once he’s back on the Enterprise, Kirk must single-handedly convince Spock that the destruction of Vulcan has caused enough emotional upset – even in a Vulcan – that Spock is unfit for duty. When Spock declares himself unfit to serve as captain, that leaves Pike’s choice for acting first officer – Kirk – to take command. His mission is to save Earth from Nero, and the odds are against him. On the other hand, James T. Kirk has the U.S.S. Enterprise at his command, along with a crew that, regardless of the changes to the timeline, is destined to help him make history.
screenplay by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman
directed by J.J. Abrams
music by Michael Giacchino
Cast: Chris Pine (James T. Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Leonard Nimoy (Spock), Eric Bana (Nero), Bruce Greenwood (Captain Christopher Pike), Karl Urban (Dr. Leonard McCoy), Zoe Saldana (Uhura), Simon Pegg (Scotty), John Cho (Sulu), Anton Yelchin (Chekov), Ben Cross (Sarek), Winona Ryder (Amanda), Chris Hemsworth (George Kirk), Jennifer Morrison (Winona Kirk), Rachel Nichols (Gaila), Faran Tahir (Captain Robau), Clifton Collins Jr. (Ayel), Antonio Elias (Officer Pitts), Sean Gerace (Tactical Officer), Randy Pausch (Kelvin Crew Member), Tim Griffin (Kelvin Engineer), Freda Foh Shen (Kelvin Helmsman), Kasia Kowalczyk (Kelvin Alien), Jason Brooks (Romulan Helmsman), Sonita Henry (Kelvin Doctor), Kelvin Yu (Medical Technician #1), Marta Martin (Medical Technician #2), Tavarus Conley (Kelvin Crew Member), Jeff Castle (Kelvin Crew Member #2), Billy Brown (Med Evac Pilot), Jimmy Bennett (young Kirk), Greg Grunberg (Kirk’s Stepdad), Spencer Daniels (Johnny), Jeremy Fitzgerald (Iowa Cop), Zoe Chernov (Vulcan Student), Max Chernov (Vulcan Student), Jacob Kogan (Young Spock), James Henrie (Vulcan Bully #1), Colby Paul (Vulcan Bully #2), Cody Klop (Vulcan Bully #3), Akiva Goldsman (Vulcan Council Member #1), Anna Katarina (Vulcan Council Member #2), Douglas Tait (Long Face Bar Alien), Tony Guma (Lew the Bartender), Gerald W. Abrams (Barfly #1), James McGrath Jr. (Barfly #2), Jason Matthew Smith (Burly Cadet #1), Marcus Young (Burly Cadet #2), Bob Clendenin (Shipyard Worker), Darlena Tejeiro (Flight Officer), Reggie Lee (Test Administrator #1), Jeffrey Byron (Test Administrator #2), Jonathan Dixon (Simulator Tactical Officer), Tyler Perry (Admiral Barnett), Ben Binswagner (Admiral Komack), Margot Farley (College Council Stenographer), Paul McGillion (Barracks Officer), Lisa Vidal (Barracks Officer), Alex Nevil (Shuttle Officer), Kimberly Arland (Cadet Alien #1), Sufe M. Bradshaw (Cadet Alien #2), Jeff Chase (Cadet Alien #3), Charlie Haugk (Enterprise Crew Member #1), Nana Hill (Enterprise Crew Member #2), Michael Saglimbeni (Enterprise Crew Member #3), John Blackman (Enterprise Crew Member #4), Jack Millard (Enterprise Crew Member #5), Shaela Luter (Enterprise Crew Member #6), Sabrina Morris (Enterprise Crew Member #7), Michelle Parylak (Enterprise Crew Member #8), Oz Perkins (Enterprise Communiations Officer), Amanda Foreman (Hannity), Michael Berry Jr. (Romulan Tactical Officer), Lucia Rijker (Romulan Communications Officer), Pasha Lychnikoff (Romulan Commander), Matthew Beisner (Romulan Crew Member #1), Neville Page (Romulan Crew Member), Jesper Inglis (Romulan Crew Member #3), Greg Ellis (Chief Engineer Olson), Marlene Forte (Transport Chief), Leonard O. Turner (Vulcan Elder #1), Mark Bramhall (Vulcan Elder #2), Ronald F. Hoiseck (Vulcan Elder #3), Irene Roseen (Vulcan Elder #4), Jeff O’Haco (Vulcan Elder #5), Scottie Thompson (Nero’s Wife), Deep Roy (Keenser), Majel Barrett Roddenberry (Starfleet Computer Voice), William Morgan Sheppard (Vulcan Science Minister)
Notes: Star Trek effectively sets up an entirely new timeline for future installments of the movie franchise to follow. The existing timeline – the original 1960s series, its TV spinoffs and the first ten films – are now a separate timeline unaffected by the new adventures of the Enterprise that carry forward from the end of this movie. Intriguingly, it’s possible that this was a separate timeline even prior to Nero’s intervention, given some of the technology seen aboard the early-23rd-century U.S.S. Kelvin. This film was the last acting role for the late Majel Barrett Roddenberry, who provided the Federation computer voice as she had done since the original Star Trek series. Blink-and-you’ll-miss-him “Barracks Officer” Paul McGillion – whom Kirk asks about his berth on the Enterprise – was formerly a regular cast member on Stargate Atlantis, and auditioned for the part of Scotty. Deep Roy, who plays Scotty’s unusual alien sidekick, is a performer well-known on both sides of the Atlantic; he has appeared in Blake’s 7 and Doctor Who, among many other UK series. The story of Nero’s origins, and Spock’s mission, begins in the original timeline’s 24th century and is chronicled in the graphic novel “Star Trek: Countdown”.
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